That may seem like a tall order, but there are a number of steps you can take to help stay emotionally well during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby.
Seven tips to take care of your emotional health include:
- Getting to understand the physical and emotional changes that are normal to experience during your pregnancy and in the first weeks after birth
- Talking with your partner, family, friends, GP or midwife about how you can manage your stress
- Avoiding stressful situations which can be postponed - this may include reducing your workload and commitments or delaying other major life stresses such as moving house or starting a new job.
- Developing a network of friends and family who can be there to assist you when you need practical help and/or emotional support
- Taking care of your health through good nutrition, exercise, adequate rest and regular medical check-ups
- Making time for you and your partner and other key relationships
- Learning to ask for support without being self-critical or embarrassed - women who are able to access support from their friends and family often recover more quickly.
Being a mother is stressful
Some degree of stress and fatigue is normal after childbirth. If possible, try to allocate ‘time out’ for yourself when your baby is sleeping to catch up on some sleep; and give yourself something to look forward to each week.
It is important to take time for yourself, which can be very hard for pregnant women and busy mothers but whenever you can, try to lie down for 20 minutes. If you’re feeling stressed focus on slowing down your breathing (eg. using the headspace app).
Your attitude and thoughts can have a profound effect on how you cope. Try repeating positive affirmations such as ‘I am a good mother’ and ‘I am calm and relaxed’ throughout the day.
Most importantly, know that you are not alone. If you do have concerns, a consultation with your GP will assist you to obtain advice about the management of your symptoms including the best types of treatment.
Other helpful resources
- St John of God Raphael Services – community-based perinatal health service for the whole family in NSW, VIC and WA
- Mother & Baby Unit at St John of God Burwood Hospital, Sydney– the only inpatient perinatal mental health unit in NSW, led by Prof Marie-Paule Austin
- Raising Children – a comprehensive range of quality-assured information for parents of children birth to eight years
- Early Childhood Australia – contains quality assured early childhood resources and information from people working within the early childhood field.